Good long backpacking trips in Europe?
May 18, 2022 3:22 AM   Subscribe

I am going to be in Portugal with no real plans in mid-June. I'm thinking about going on a longish (~1 month?) backpacking trip. What's a good place in Europe to do that?

Things I'd like:
  • Relatively safe
  • One long uninterrupted hike, in nature as much as possible
  • Trailhead accessible by rail/bus
  • Not unreasonably cold
I will have a tent and sleeping bag with me. It doesn't have to be in/near Portugal, just somewhere in the Schengen Area. I am relatively fit and experienced at backpacking, I don't expect I'd have trouble with most trails.
posted by wesleyac to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
There are any number of external resources published about this that you can use to tailor to your specific needs. Your list covers a lot of ground (ha) in terms of the big variables like ascent (do you want a plain or alpine) and ruggedness (are you capable of carrying a lot of food and water or do you want to stop every night to restock). Camino de Santiago and the West Highliand Way (if you'd consider UK) spring to mind as obvious options.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:53 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

Not a specific trail recommendation, but the European Long-distance paths site has 40k miles of long-distance hikes, including "verified" paths that "bring you a lot of contact to local nature and local people".

Most (if not all) paths pass through major cities, so are transit accessible. For example, the E8 in Austria goes through Vienna and is also accessible via train/bus from other locations.
posted by flicken at 3:55 AM on May 18 [6 favorites]

Cicerone Press has a number of books that may help you answer this question.
posted by shw at 4:57 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]

You will probably want to skip the Alps if you're going in mid-June and don't want cold (though I'm not sure how cold "unreasonably cold" is) - there will definitely still be snow in a lot of the higher passes.

Seconding the E- long-distance paths and the Cicerone guides.

The Grandes Randonées in France are another good option (and I think they might all have Cicerone guides). Note that the GRs and the E paths do bring you through a lot of inhabited areas and you generally have the option to sleep most or all nights in a bed either in a village or a mountain hut. Not sure whether that's a plus or a minus. Hut-to-hut trekking in France is pretty fabulous - stunning views all day and then a cold beer or a carafe of rosé and a good, hearty meal in a convivial atmosphere? Yes thank you.
posted by mskyle at 5:39 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]

Best answer: There are some great ones in Norway with excellent marked trails and cabins (serviced and unserviced).

Here's one example, Østerdalsleden (320km), but you can do your own route planning on and
posted by knapah at 5:57 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]

Reddit's user base is pretty international on may subreddits. Look for some hiking and travel subs and ask there, a swell. also, outdoor gear shops; people who have through-hiked usually love to share.
posted by theora55 at 7:22 AM on May 18

Response by poster: These are great suggestions, thanks!

Some more notes:
  • I'm comfortable with ascending, but not excited about it — my preference is for most of the trip to be flatish
  • I'm used to carrying a week or so of food with me, so resupplying more often than that feels like a luxury
  • I'd prefer to be somewhat remote and avoid large cities/towns. My impression is that it seems hard to do that on the E paths, but I'm not really sure if that's true?

posted by wesleyac at 8:11 AM on May 18

Easily accessible, flat Europe tends to be (densely) populated and not full of completely remote trails that will take a month to hike. Even the moderately accessible non-flat parts are populated- there are networks of trails and huts all over the Alpes and villages and towns in all the valleys. So perhaps explore some of the recommendations with your three top priorities in mind and consider which two you‘re willing to settle for.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:34 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Norway has some plateaus and flatter areas if you look around eg Hardangervidda. The links I gave above can help you find elevation profiles for the walks. I think Norway does fit your bill for isolation. It's 1.5 times the size of the UK with only 5 million people.

Non-Schengen, but you could also look at walks along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. Pretty remote if you want it to be.
posted by knapah at 10:11 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

knapah: walks along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland.
ooo that's a good idea. Next door is the SouthWest Coast Path = 1,000km of cliff and beach round the bottom-left corner of England. In The Salt Path [2019] Raynor Winn wrote about up-and-downing along most of it, with her bloke just after he got a terminal neurological diagnosis.
I walked the 700km Atlantic coast of Portugal, from Sagres to the Galician border in 1989 - chosen because the navigation was straightforward: keep left foot wet and all will be well. It was flattish and rather quiet: one day I spoke to more dolphins than people . . . I guess there are fewer dolphins and more apart-hotels there now.
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:24 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]

On the big trails you should definitely expect to encounter either villages, mountain huts, or small towns every 10-20km, but although the major trails go through large cities, you don't have to do those parts of the trail - either pick a section that doesn't go through any large cities or, when you reach the suburbs of a large city, get on a train or bus and skip to the other side.
posted by mskyle at 5:37 AM on May 19

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